Today's Papers

Five Ring Circus

The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times lead with the federal indictments yesterday of two Salt Lake City men on charges of orchestrating a scheme for landing the 2002 Winter Games for Utah by bribing Olympics officials. The New York Times puts Salt Lake below the fold, and the top national news story at the paper is that, based on available polls and interviews with Republican and Democratic strategists, George W. Bush has at the moment only a slim lead in the Electoral College over Al Gore: probably a total of 278 electoral votes, only 8 more than needed to win. USA Today gives the top of the page over to a “cover story” about the development and overdevelopment of beach communities nationwide, pushing below the fold the paper’s top news story, the lawsuit filed yesterday against music and movie sharing site by the nation’s major movie studios and record labels. The suit charges that Scour knowingly assists users in copying copyrighted materials, which results in lost compensation for artists and others involved in their creation. The Wall Street Journal tops its front-page business news box with Alan Greenspan’s report to Congress suggesting that the Fed probably won’t raise interest rates when it meets next month.

The papers explain that the two Utah men are accused of diverting community-raised funds to International Olympic Committee members (who would vote on the site of the 2002 Games) in the forms of direct cash payments in envelopes or by subsidizing such personal expenses as a ski vacation, college tuition, a purebred dog, an American Express bill, and, swear to God, a mayoral campaign in Chile. The LAT points out that the trial will be taking place just months before the Salt Lake Games start and quotes one expert as saying that the defendants “were likely to have the most sympathetic jury [they] could find in this country.”

The WP off-lead is an inside tick-by-tock of the resurrected Camp David talks. The story goes in for seeing Halberstamian moments full of epochal significance in the fueling of planes and the moving of luggage. But the facts of the story can’t support the grandeur, because the reporting strongly suggests that success is not in sight, but rather that both Arafat and Barak are staying, not because they are on the verge of an agreement, but as a courtesy to Clinton.

The WP fronts yesterday’s public meeting of a government commission that decided to go forward with a proposed World War II memorial to be located between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The paper implies the project is destined for final approval even though it also observes that at yesterday’s hearing there were more people speaking out against it than for it. But it’s hard to tell from the Post account what the opposition is all about. For that you have to turn to the NYT’s inside effort, which high up says that some critics think the proposed architecture is in the words of one, “unacceptably reminiscent of Fascist and Nazi regimes,” and some think the placement of the thing fouls the aesthetics of the space between the Washington and Lincoln monuments. The coverage takes no account of the idea that the WW II generation, God bless it, has not exactly been overlooked. Why for instance, doesn’t Saving Private Ryan count? Or if bricks and mortar are required, isn’t the Iwo Jima memorial perfect? It’s the forgotten heroes of doomed and unpopular causes that need monuments. And if deserved national recognition equals a monument in Washington, then we’re already well on our way to paving the streets there with nothing but. There’ll be the Pueblo obelisk, the Granada arch, not to mention the logically inevitable and equally logically impossible The Monument to All American Soldiers Who Don’t Have One.

USAT and the NYT front, and the LAT reefers, word that physicists plan to announce today that they have made their first direct detection of something called the tau neutrino, the last particle of the standard physics model of reality to be confirmed. The problem has been that neutrinos, to quote one of USAT’s pocket protectoids, are “gone almost as soon as they’re created.”

Both USAT and the NYT report that John McCain now says he would serve as George W. Bush’s VP if asked. And the NYT reports that David Letterman is trying to put together a presidential campaign debate on his show. Al Gore has already accepted, and George W. Bush is thinking about it. Letterman’s executive producer is quoted as saying, “We think this will pretty much decide the election.”

She was probably disoriented from visiting George W. Bush’s new Web site,, which, reports the WP’s Al Kamen, states that the No. 3 priority of the campaign is “Putting Education First.”